The Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion (CDFI), New Delhi and Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to roll out a digital inclusion pilot called Benefit Entitlement Tracking Solution (BETS) across 45 anganwadi centres (AWCs) across Mahbubnagar district in Telangana state. This is the first district to adopt technology to transform anganwadis. BETS is a CDFI-supported digital platform that improves transparency, effectiveness and productivity through streamlined benefit delivery to its intended beneficiaries. Anganwadi centres employ and trains community women to deliver a range of services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunisation, health check-ups as well as pre-school non-formal education. Telangana is home to 35,000 AWCs catering to the reported needs of nearly 19 lakh, 5 lakh infants and over 21 lakh pregnant women annually (2015 data), says Ronald Rose, IAS, district collector, Mahbubnagar. This district is considered as one of the 250 most backward districts in the country.
A study of 15 Mahbubnagar anganwadis was conducted in early September by CDFI and Aga Khan Academy. A pilot baseline and field study was conducted and the challenges identified were related to areas of governance, service delivery and inventory management. Anganwadi workers spend more time record keeping than effectively managing their centres and helping serve women and children. BETS is a citizen-centric digital innovation that intends to create a transformational paradigm shift in service delivery mechanisms. The pilot will be launched with induction training for AWC workers and helpers. It aims to transform anganwadis into proactive service providers for all beneficiaries served by them. It will enable technology-led service processes to eliminate mundane work and move anganwadis towards realising their potential as pre-school ‘learning centres’ where empowered service providers engage children.